Monday, February 22, 2016

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Pits

A pit might be defined as a “large hole in the ground.”  A pit sounds pretty uninteresting, and yet pits have played a crucial role in cult-TV storytelling over the years.

For example, in Land of the Lost (1974-1977), the Sleestak worship a monster in a pit, one that the audience hears growling, but never sees.  In several episodes, members of the Marshall family are either thrown into the misty pit, or hung above the misty pit in a net, waiting to be devoured by this barbaric ‘God.’  I love that the series never once showed us this menacing being/deity.

Pits also showed up from time-to-time on Space: 1999 (1975 – 1977). In the Year One story, “Full Circle,’ for instance, Alan Carter (Nick Tate) finds himself trapped in a pit on the planet Retha, forced to fight a cave-man there.

And in the Year Two story ‘New Adam, New Eve,” Commander Koenig (Martin Landau) digs a pit on New Earth and covers up the hole, hoping to trick the false god, Magus, into it.

The Doctor Who (1963-1989) serial “The Creature from the Pit” is probably self-explanatory, but this Tom Baker serial also involves a monster…and a hole in the ground (on the planet Chloris). The new Doctor Who (2005 - ) features an episode called “The Satan Pit.”  It involves the tenth Doctor’s (David Tennant) discovery of the devil on a pit in a planet near a black hole.

In “The Arsenal of Freedom,” a first season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994), Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) fall into a pit on an alien planet, and the good doctor is badly injured.

The X-Files (1993 – 2002) fifth season story “Detour,” finds Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) battling a pair of moth men in Florida. These moth men have an underground lair, where they store corpses (ostensibly for food). Before the episode’s end, the FBI agents have found their way into that frightening pit.

During the Governor’s (David Morrissey) spell on The Walking Dead (2010 - ), audiences have seen zombie pits, and unlucky humans who fall into them.

Last but not least, the TV adaptation of From Dusk Till Dawn (2015) reveals the origin of Santana Pandemonium. She falls into a snake pit, and once bitten, becomes a servant of evil.

1 comment:

  1. The Sleestak pit freaked me out. Although I always preferred seeing a monster, not seeing the pit creature was one time that something unseen really got to me. The whole idea of a bottomless pit was a real childhood fear of mine.